Torah thought forFriday 24 Adar 5783 March 17 2023

Parshiyot Vayekhel Pekudei – Parashat HaChodesh

From the teachings of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztvk”l. written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a
translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK

The Donations to the Mishkan and the Bet HaMikdash are Collateral for Our Sins

It states in this week’s Parashah (Pekudei) following the completion of the Mishkan and its artefacts, “All the work of the Mishkan Ohel Moed was completed. Bnei Yisrael did exactly as Hashem commanded Moshe” (Shemot 39:32). After this it states, “When Moshe saw that all the work had been done exactly as Hashem had ordered, he blessed [all the workers]” (ibid. v. 43).

We find that the Mishkan is literally a “microcosm of the world’, for from its blessing flows to the whole world. Therefore, just as with the creation of the world it first states, “Heaven and earth, and all their components, were completed” (Bereishit 2:1), it also states with the Mishkan, “All the work of the Mishkan Ohel Moed was completed” (Shemot 39:32). And just as after creation it states, “Hashem blessed the seventh day, and He declared it to be holy” (Bereishit 2:3) likewise with the Mishkan it states, “Moshe blessed [all the workers]” (Shemot 39:43).

If so, both with the formation of the Mishkan and Mikdash creation are alluded to. For the Mishkan is also Hashem creation, as it states, “The Mikdash of Hashem Your Hands have founded” (Shemot 15:17). And as our chachamim said (Ketubot 8a), the deeds of the righteous are greater that the creation of the world.

What is meant by the words in our Parashah, “These are the accounts of the Mishkan”? (Shemot 38:21) “Accounts of the Mishkan” is calculating all of the Bnei Yisrael’s donations to the Mishkan. How much gold, silver and copper, how many precious stones and pearls and more and more that the Bnei Yisrael donated to the Mishkan. It all comes accounted for in our Parashah. We must understand what is so important about counting the amount that was donated to the Mishkan? We must also consider why does it say twice “the Mishkan of Testimony”? (ibid.).

Our chachamim explain that “Mishkan” is derived from the word collateral, meaning that it is collateral for am Yisrael’s sins. When we see a person who has gold and silver and he requires a loan, he counts over and over all his gold and silver. Why does he do this? Because he has to use his assets as collateral in order to qualify for the loan. Likewise, Hashem, as it were, counts the gold and silver that Am Yisrael gave, and that amount was used as collateral in Hashem’s hand alongside Am Yisrael’s  sins. When the volume mounts up, and an exceedingly harsh decree was scheduled to be brought against Am Yisrael, Hashem took the collateral, which is the Mishkan. Twice it was destroyed, with both the first and second Temples, He poured His wrath on wood and stones, so as to circumvent the destruction of Am Yisrael.

Indeed, the Mishkan was destroyed, and all of its artefacts stolen by strangers. But we trust that in the future Hashem Yitbarach will renew our days as of old [see Eichah 5:21] as it states in Tehillim in the chapter that depicts the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, “A psalm of Asaph” (Tehillim 79:1). Our chachamim asked, why does it say, “A psalm of Asaph”? it should say “A lament of Asaph”, for this entire psalm depicts the destruction!

Tosafot (Kiddushin 30a) quote a story about Avimi, Rav Hisda’s son, and this is what transpired:

Rav Hisda lived for a long time, he lived to 92 years old. Even in his old age he would attend the Bet HaMidrash. One afternoon he returned home and he was tired. He said to his son whose name was Avimi, “Avimi! Bring me a cup of water to drink!”

Avimi said to him, “Here father, I am bringing a cup of water straight away”. Avimi went to the nearby well, he drew some water and filled the cup and came before him to serve him the cup. To his surprise he saw Rav Hisda sleeping. He said to himself, what shall I do now? He stood and waited with the cup until his father would wake up.

At that time Avimi merited to a revelation. Flashed in his mind the passuk from Tehillim (79:1) “A psalm of Asaph, O Hashem! The nations have entered into Your inheritance they have defiled the Sanctuary of Your holiness, they have turned Yerushalayim into heaps of rubble.” In his heart Avimi was perplexed, how can it state, “A psalm of Asaph”, is this a psalm? It would have been appropriate to say, “a lament of Asaph”, and not a psalm!

Asaph composed this psalm. Who was Asaph? Asaph was Korach’s son, as it states, “The sons of Korach: Assir, Elkanah and Aviasaph” (Shemot 6:24). Aviasaph is Asaph who is mentioned in various psalms of Tehillim, and he possessed Ruch HaKodesh. Initially he went with his father, Korach, however at that time that the earth stood to swallow Korach and his congregation, Korach’s sons stood and supplicated before Hashem, “Ribbono shel Olam! Have mercy on us! Moshe is true and his Torah is true! A miracle materialised for them so that within the sink hole a ledge was created for them and they stood on it and were saved.

After they escaped and were saved, Asaph stood and developed himself spiritually until he merited to Ruach HaKodesh. Asaph was distressed, for at the end of the day, Korach was his father, and he was pained by his father’s demise.

The Talmud (Bava Batra 75a) relates about one of the great Amoraim (who was also uniquely eminent in Kabbalah and in the hidden section of the Torah), Rabbah bar Channah, who was travelling in the wilderness and an Arab approached him, and it is possible that this was Eliyahu HaNavi [in disguise]. The Arab said to him, do you want me to show you Korach’s place? He went with him and showed him a place were smoke was emanating from, the heat was intense and Korach was buried there. Rabbah bar Channah listened and heard from the pit the groans of the people who were crying out, “Moshe is true, and his Torah is true, and we are liars”.

Likewise with Asaph, he also knew what had arisen in his father’s lot, that he was judged for continuous periods of generations in this harsh punishment. He thought in his heart, who will save my father?

To what may this be comparable to? There was a king, who was thirsty. He said to his maidservant, please bring me a cup of water. The maidservant went out to the well. She tied the earthenware jug to the rope and lowered it into the well. But suddenly the rope knot loosened, and the jug fell. The maidservant sat and cried for who will endanger their life and risk so much to enter the well in order to retrieve the earthenware jug? Since for her the jug had a great value. This is why she sat and cried.

The king waited for the water and when he realized that the maidservant delayed, he said to his daughter, my daughter! Please bring me a cup of water. His daughter went to the well, taking her golden jug. She tied it to the rope but suddenly the knot became undone, and the golden jug fell. The maidservant saw this and began to sing and dance from joy. They said to her, why are you so happy? She replied that for my earthenware jug, for sure no one will enter the well but now they will enter the well to retrieve the golden jug and the one who recovers the golden jug will certainly also bring back my earthenware jug. Therefore I am happy!

Likewise, also thought Asaph. He said in his heart, who will save father? He has no solution! Then suddenly he saw through Ruach HaKodesh that King David a”h wanted to build the Bet HaMikdash but Hashem didn’t let him because he had engaged in many battles. Therefore King David only built the Bet HaMikdash’s gates, investing in them greatly. When the enemies came to destroy the Bet HaMikdash, Hashem said, these gates are the work of my servant David, how could they be allowed to fall into the hands of these wicked people Therefore He sank the gates deep in the ground, as it states, “Her gates have sunk into the earth” (Eicha 2:9).

Asaph saw this and his heart rejoiced. He now said, whoever will bring these gates out of the ground and bring a great salvation to Am Yisrael with the future building of the third Bet HaMikdash, will also bring up my father from the ground. Therefore, he said, “A psalm of Asaph”, for Asaph had a great joy when he saw what was destined to happen. This whole insight was Avimi’s until his father Rav Hisda awoke  and drank from the water.

Every person should consider that we when pray every day, “we hope and anticipate Your salvation all day”, we aren’t just praying for our individual salvation, we must be conscious that we are enduring a harsh exile. On the one hand there are many who have no idea what Shabbat is, what is the Torah! Especially the leaders of m Yisrael about which it states, “I shall make youngsters their leaders, and mockers will rule them” (Yeshaya 3:4), this is a punitive exile! On the other side there are enemies surrounding us. We must consider when there is demonstration by chareidim, in honour of the Shabbat, for the Torah, they are relentlessly hit, and their blood is spilt! When they attack the Torah, it gives confidence to the Arabs. When they seek out the chareidim, all the time saying, “chareidim, chareidim” and enact decrees on those studying Torah, this causes accusations against Am Yisrael. When those who aren’t chareidim demonstrate, the police won’t dare hit them as they do with the chareidim! This is a punitive exile.

We must realise! Even though we dwell relatively peacefully in Eretz Yisrael, we are still in a very bitter exile and the journey is still long. For we gaze to Hashem that He send us our righteous Mashiach and that He build for us the Bet HaMikdash, “For then I will change the nations [to speak] a pure language, so that they all will proclaim the Name of Hashem, to worship Him with a united resolve” (Tzephanyah 3:9). The crown will return to its former glory, to our splendid Bet HaMikdash, speedily in our days, Amen

Shabbat Shalom!